2019 Research Project Progress Report

That certainly sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But the short answer is, there is no progress because I haven’t been working on it. At all.

My big plan for 2018, which I completed, was to produce a bound book of Ancestors of My Brother from my FamilyTreeMaker data and give it to him for Christmas. Done, in 6 copies – one for him one for each of his children, and one for me. It’s gorgeous.

The plan for 2019 was to make research binder pages with full-page images to be printed and added to binders by some undetermined division of surnames. Each person/section would be supplemented by original documents and photos in acid-free page protectors, all properly identified. Sounded good. Didn’t happen.

What I have is a FTM database of just under 2,000 names with data collected over almost 50 years of research, which was massively cleaned up last year in preparation for the 2018 project. Time well-spent. I also have acid-free boxes divided by great-grandparent surname with original documents or copies such as death certificates, cemetery deeds, wills, letters, and military records. And photos – tho the tiny photos are being handled in another way. Yeah, lots of options. There’s also lots of correspondence, some of it dating back to the early 1970’s, from long-deceased relatives with seeds of information, and from cemeteries and churches with information covering multiple family members.

Also in the boxes are lots of random things, mostly outdated or replaced in digital form such as handwritten transcriptions of census records or abstracted land-deeds, and ancient family group sheets full of mis- or incomplete information. Some serious weeding of all of this was needed.

This week I started going through some of those boxes, weeding and sorting as I went, putting things in lovely clear acid-free sheet protectors and then putting THEM in a binder. I got through material for the Heginbothams, McCormicks, Cookes, Morrisons, and Flanders, which are all maternal lines. Next up are the boxes for my paternal lines, which have way more stuff to look at. But this is important.

What’s also important is coming to the realization that I do NOT want to make research binders with text, group sheets, original documents, etc. It’s a lot of work and I just don’t want to do it. What I want to do instead is make more printed & bound books with full-size photos and documents now in FamilyTreeMaker (which includes census, vital records, newspaper articles, city directory images, etc.). I’m thinking one book of ancestors for each of my grandparents, and one book of descendants for each set of grandparents.

All of these original documents that I’m carefully putting in acid-free storage can still go into binders by surname. I might organize them differently – not by individual person but by category of document, since several people in the same family appear on one page. Everything must be labeled, identified, and dated – because I’m the only one right now who knows what all that stuff is.

The goal is to make sure that all of the research I’ve done and all the material I’ve collected gets organized in a format that will be useful to me and to other family members who might refer to it when I’m not around to explain it.

So that’s the plan.

Cleaning Up the Family Tree

I know, I know … no new profiles recently. But I’ve been working like a fiend behind the scenes doing database cleanup on my 48 year old genealogy files. I have public trees in several places including Ancestry.com, but my real work happens in FamilyTreeMaker (FTM), which I’ve used since it was a DOS program (yes, I’m old and have been doing this a long time). I’ve also been synching my tree between Ancestry and FTM since the capability was offered, keeping both up to date.

FTM
FamilyTreeMaker Available at https://www.mackiev.com/ftm/index.html

But there are problems. Lots of problems. Importing and merging records over many years gave me a tree full of errors and I hadn’t really done systematic cleanup. I had duplicate names recorded as separate facts, a mishmash of place name formats, and serious errors such as people attached to the wrong parents. Oops.

So that’s what I’m working on now. I joined a Facebook group for FTM Users, which has wonderful resources on working with the software which has developed powerful tools for cleanup that I had no idea were part of the software.  Ancestry doesn’t have them, although I do like their relationship tools better than FTM. Lucky me, I can work in both and synch.

ResolveplacenamesMy trigger for doing all of this was using the new FTM plugin Family Book Creator to pull data from my tree into a book of my father’s ancestors. Looking at the index of place names, individual names, source list, and scanned images gave me a road map of things that need fixing.  I started with the easiest (and smallest) group: duplicate people. Then I worked on reconciling place names, making sure that all elements were present and in the same format of  City, County, State, Country. Although I’ve been careful about this in the last few years, I had decades of old work that needed correction.

Next I went to Manage Facts and was appalled to see that importing records from FindaGrave, Fold3, and Newspapers.com created dozens of new fact labels with data that should have gone into a different field. I worked through these one at a time and have a strategy for working with new finds.

Now I’m working through the Data Errors Report, which had 36 pages of problems such as missing dates, duplicate events, duplicate names, children born when mother was too young or too old, etc.  I can’t fix the “missing date” problems for most of these people right now but I hverified that my extended direct lines are complete and I have a report of what’s missing to work on later.  The other errors are taking time to work through but it’s satisfying to know what needs doing.

DataErrorReport

My biggest challenge ahead is cleaning up my Source list. It must be done and I know why and how, but I hate citations and hate that I have so many to fix, which is why I started with everything else.